Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably the most popular among tourists. The diverse ecosystems of the park, such as vast savannah, shady rainforests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it an ideal habitat for classic African big animals (lions, elephants, etc.), ten species of primates, including chimpanzees, as well as for over 600 species of birds.
Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the park offers stunning views of dozens of huge craters cut into undulating green hills, panoramic views of the Kazinga Canal lined with hippos, buffaloes and elephants, and the endless plains of Ishasha whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on an unsuspecting herd of Ugandan kobs (African antelopes).
In addition to outstanding wildlife attractions, Queen Elizabeth National Park has a fascinating cultural history. There are many opportunities for visitors to experience local communities and enjoy historical storytelling, dance, music and more.
This wonderful national park is sometimes referred to as the “Pearl of Africa” or the “Switzerland of Africa”. Its fertile equatorial area is particularly picturesque, with two lakes connected by a canal that can be observed from a high peninsula. Here you can also see volcanic craters, grassy plains and rainforest. Thus, the park has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world.
Hunting artifacts such as stuffed lions, leopard skins, deer heads and elephant tusks still sometimes adorn some hotels and loggias, but these days the focus is more on photography. Much of Uganda’s wildlife has been poached in the past, especially elephants, but today these areas are protected and elephant numbers are on the rise with elephants from the Congo Park, where poaching still exists.
It is likely that when looking at some of the maps of Uganda, you will get a little confused. Several national parks and lakes have changed their names more than once since independence in 1962, and not all maps convey these changes. For example, Queen Elizabeth National Park was called Rwenzori National Park for many years before it regained its royal colonial name. At the same time, the Rwenzori Mountains, north of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, became the new Rwenzori National Park in 1991. Confused? Nothing surprising!
ANIMALS AND BIRDS
The wide biodiversity of the habitats means that the Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to an amazing number of species – almost 100 species of mammals and 606 different birds! Only one channel of Kasinga has the largest concentration of hippos, while it is curious that there are not very many crocodiles here. Other wildlife in the park include the warthog, the rare sitatunga aquatic antelope, the large forest pig, the beautifully horned Ugandan kob, the topi, the waterbuck, the elephant and the leopard. There are no giraffes, zebras, impalas or rhinos.
The Kyambura Gorge (or Chambura) on the park’s northeastern border is a Tarzan jungle-like area, with its tall, dense trees and drooping vines trailing through the soft forest floor. In addition, the picture is complemented by chimpanzees who rumble and crackle high in the branches. If they don’t want to be seen, they’ll just be one step ahead of the breathless ground visitors all the time.
The forest of Maramagambo, located south of the Kasinga Canal, is also home to a large number of chimpanzees, as well as other species of monkeys.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to some rare and strange birds, and enthusiastic ornithologists from all over the world come here to watch the unusual shoebill (or king heron) with its perpetual pout. This giant bird reaches over 1 meter in height and looks quite shy. These and many other birds and animals are best seen from a boat on the Kasinga Canal.
Dry season: The period from June to September is the driest time when most animals stay near the water, but be prepared for afternoon showers at any moment. The hot dry season is from January to February and is a good time to visit. Average dry season temperatures are 25°C.
Rainy Season: From October to December and from March to May it can rain at any time, many roads become impassable during these periods.
FEATURES OF QUEEN ELIZABETH PARK
- Sunset over the water
- Warthogs and hippos seen from Mwaya Lodge
- Rafting on the Kasinga Canal
- Chimpanzee in the Kyambura Gorge (Chambura)
- Beautifully located safari lodges
The park covers an area of 1978 sq. km.
The road from the capital of Uganda – Kampala – is 420 km, about 5-6 hours by car.
Mweya Lodge has an airstrip for light aircraft, as well as a larger airstrip in the city of Kasese.